[From the ECRE Weekly Bulletin, 4 May 2012]
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has condemned Greece’s police-style health controls of migrants in the name of public health protection, arguing that such operations can only spread fear among the groups they target, and compel them to go into hiding, preventing them from accessing healthcare services. .
The amendment to the Greek Presidential Decree 114/2010 foresees mandatory health screenings for third country nationals, whether they have applied for asylum or not, assumed to pose a risk to public health due to the fact that they are carrying an infectious disease, or because they are considered to belong to groups who are believed to be prone to such diseases, based on their country of origin, due to involvement in prostitution, intravenous drug-use, or people who live in conditions that do not meet basic hygiene standards.
MSF stresses that, at the same time, undocumented migrants have access to the healthcare system only in “emergency cases and until the stabilisation of their health is achieved” according to the law (Article 84/Ν.3386/2005). The medical organisation underlines that public health can be effectively safeguarded by providing access to healthcare services to the population most in need regardless of their origin.
According to MSF, the Greek government is not only failing to assume its responsibilities regarding public health but it also turns the “victim” into a “perpetrator”.
According to data from MSF’s interventions in detention facilities in Evros during 2011, “over 60% of the medical problems of detainees are due to or directly related to their substandard living (detention) conditions”.
MSF also warns that “the participation of health professionals in police “sweep” operations arouses serious ethical issues, according to the code of medical ethics”.
For further information:
- Medecines Sans Frontiers, Greece: “Public health cannot be safeguarded through police-led health inspections and scaremongering”
- Irish Times, Prostitutes, migrants rounded up in Greece
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Greece adopts legislation to detain migrants on health grounds and pushes forward with large-scale detention centres
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Greece plans to detain migrants and asylum seekers on health grounds